TRAIL: Harrison Lake Trail No. 217
DISTANCE: 4.5 miles out and back
ELEVATION GAIN: 1430 feet
Looking for an adventure? Look no farther than Harrison Lake in North Idaho. This trail is perfect for all levels of hiker, as well as dogs and kiddos. Ranked as moderate, I found the trail pretty easy aside from the final mile right before reaching the lake. With a good pair of (waterproof) hiking boots and perhaps a good set of trekking poles, the majority of the trail was very manageable. The only problem I encountered was my own...I tend to struggle with dragging my feet which was somewhat of a burden on this trail due to loose boulders and rocks just waiting for you to stub your toes on.
But in all honesty, the Harrison Lake Trail No 217 has a bit of everything. Views of the Beehive Dome, Bottleneck Peak and Roman Nose accompany you on the slight grade uphill through the subalpine fir and spruce trees to the alpine lake a little under two and a half miles ahead. The last mile is a slight scramble up a granite face which could result in confusion with following the trail. Just look for the perfectly placed rock cairns along the way and you can't go wrong.
You'll know you've reached the lake once you start seeing the tents scattered along the trailside. Even in the snow, we saw at least half a dozen campers setting up their sites for the weekend. Wind your way through the random boulders to the water and be sure to take pause to see the clarity of the frigid lake...something I'm sure my pup and I would have been tempted to jump into had it been later in the summer.
DIRECTION TO TRAILHEAD:
The Harrison Lake trailhead can be reached via the Pack River Road (which is about 10.5 miles north of Sandpoint right before the gas station).
Turn west off US 95 and travel about 20 miles to reach Trail 217 (You'll pass signs for Chimney Rock and Beehive Lakes before reaching Harrison Lake). The parking lot has a lot of room for the popularity of the trail and a pit toilet. Campers there is no garbage service - pack it in, pack it out.
ALSO NOTE: the last 5 or 6 miles of the Pack River Road may only be suitable for high clearance/ 4-wheel drive vehicles depending on the season.